These are the first new (used and for the moment disassembled) combat aircraft for Serbia since 1987.
Three pairs of partially disassembled MiG-29 Fulcrum jets destined to Serbia have been transported to the Batajnica airbase, near Belgrade, Serbia, aboard an Antonov An-124 airlifter to be taken on charge by the Serbian Air Force.
The six used jets have been gifted by Russia, and will have to be overhauled and modernized before they enter service in Serbia: reportedly, the aircraft will be upgraded to the SMT standard, a multirole variant that, along with the N010M Zhuk–M radar it features a big 950-litre spine CFT (Conformal Fuel Tank), an in-flight refueling system, a “glass cockpit” and a IKSh-1M HUD (Head-Up Display). Along with the R-27T medium-range IR-guided air-to-air missiles or the extended-range R-27ER/ET AAMs, or up to six RVV-AE AAMs, the MiG-29SMT can carry “dumb” or guided air-to-surface weapons including two Kh-29T/L, up to four Kh-25M, or two Kh-31A7P missiles, or up to four KAB-500 guided bombs.
However, Serbian aviation journalist Petar Vojinovic says the MiG-29s will only get minor upgrades:
No SMT standard upgrade even talked about let alone contractually agreed. Just slight comm-nav updates for Western operations.
— Petar Vojinovic (@petarV) October 5, 2017
This is not the first time the Russia supported the Serbian Air Force’s Fulcrum operations: back in 2014, the Serbian Mig-29s returned to active service after being grounded for months, thanks to the accumulators donated by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Serbia could also receive 30 battle tanks and 30 armored vehicles donated from Russia, and it’s been negotiating the procurement of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft systems: Moscow tries to strengthen its ties with Belgrade and somehow resist NATO’s expansion in the Balkans.
According to Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin the MiG-29s will be unveiled at Batajnica during the celebration to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade in WW2 on Oct. 20.
The An-124 that carried the “new” combat aircraft to Serbia belonged to the Volga-Dnepr, an airline based in Ulyanovsk, Russia, that provides air charter services with a fleet of ten Antonov An-124, five Boeing 747-8F and five IL-76TD-90VD.
Flying back and forth to Serbia, the An-124 RA-82045 delivered the three pairs in three days: the first one was delivered on Monday Oct. 2, the second on Tuesday Oct. 3 and the last one on Wednesday Oct. 4.
All the flights could be tracked online on Flightradar24.com.
H/T Dragan Mejic for the heads-up